A chance to own a piece of pop television history...

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Tim D
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A chance to own a piece of pop television history...

Post by Tim D »

Not long to go now until the next Kaleidoscope Music Event on June 7th and thanks to John Henshall, you'll have the opportunity to own a piece of pop television history.

‘Top of the Pops’ aficionados will remember the kaleidoscopic effect used at the end of the programme in the 1970s and '80s, behind the credits and end music. But how was this effect achieved? In those days digital effects were unknown and the effect was achieved using a unique lens attachment rented from the camera effects company Telefex. Most of the Telefex camera effects – including the Fisheye Lens used on Bowie’s ‘The Jean Genie', Multi-Image prisms and Star filters – were entrusted to the care of the National Media Museum in Bradford a few years ago. A few items remained, forgotten in John Henshall’s archive storage unit until recently. With Perspex reflectors inside a tube with a fisheye lens at the end, the ‘Telefex Tunnel Lens 2’ kaleidoscope used in the closing of ’Top of the Pops’ was one of the items which came to light. Rather than send it to a museum, possibly never to be seen again, John Henshall is making this unique device available for sale to a dedicated ‘Top of the Pops’ enthusiast, with the entire proceeds going to the Royal National Lifeboat Institution. Don’t miss this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to own a unique piece of pop history!

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Re: A chance to own a piece of pop television history...

Post by Bernie »

John used to own the EMI 2001 to go with it, but he sold it a while back.

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Re: A chance to own a piece of pop television history...

Post by Tim D »

Now that's something I'd like to have in the corner of my living room, an EMI 2001, but that's nothing extraordinary here when at least 90% of the forum's membership probably feel the same way! I wonder what Philip Schofield's done with his? I'll have to make do with my cardboard box with a small Oxo box on the top to replicate the tally light.

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Re: A chance to own a piece of pop television history...

Post by Bernie »

You do of course also need the Vinten ped and head with gassing facilities, a big fat cable, the CCU in its bay, a sync pulse generator and probably a few bits more. Most of a living room full, and it still won't work without a certain amount of capacitor etc replacement. Still, and the end of all that you could probably sell tickets to have a go.

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Re: A chance to own a piece of pop television history...

Post by GarethR »

tr70quadruplex, who hasn't been around here for a while, is your man for explaining just what bastards EMI 2001s are to get working again. Replacing all the caps seems to be only the first job.

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Re: A chance to own a piece of pop television history...

Post by Clive »

Electronics from the 60's/70's should generally be servicable today without too many problems. I have read about the technical restoration of EMI2001's and wondered if the were inherently unreliable at the time ?

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Re: A chance to own a piece of pop television history...

Post by Bernie »

Yes, I seem to remember Mr RCA VT being quite vehement about 2001s and his love of Marconi MkV11s. It has turned out that 2001s can be made to work again, and somewhere I have the pictures to prove it.

I operated 2001s for about 8 years and they were very reliable and a pleasure to operate, unlike the Link 110s which followed.

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Re: A chance to own a piece of pop television history...

Post by GarethR »

Bernie wrote:Yes, I seem to remember Mr RCA VT being quite vehement about 2001s and his love of Marconi MkV11s. It has turned out that 2001s can be made to work again
He never said they couldn't. In fact he this is what he said...

"In a nutshell, they are a paradox. It is a fairly simple camera really and should be easy to get going. It is, up to a point but a lot depends on how it's been stored. They contain hundreds of plastic cased transistors and they are hygroscopic, sucking in mositure from the air. The transistors 'fool' you in to thinking that they are working and then a few hours later die on you (by the dozen!)

Given plenty of time, skill, knowledge and some spares a 2001 can be made to work fairly easily. The trick is twofold:

1. Making it work *properly* - that needs a lot of time and effort.
2. Keeping it that way!

The viewfinder is especially evil - full of domestic components, more akin to a domestic telly. This also goes for many of the other components - not really top grade.

In a nutshell, yes, it can be done but I don't recommend it unless you have the skill and bags of time. Producing four pictures (YRGB) and a working viewfinder is not the end of the story - you've still got a long way to go to make it look passable. One that's been stored well is a good prospect, preferably an ITV one (the surviving BBC ones seem to be well shot and 'got at'). They would not be trustworthy for a serious production without a shed load of work and a major preventative maintenance programme. Even then I still wouldn't trust them. I'd also wager that you'd be disappointed with the pictures unless you know how to be 'sympathetic' to them by limiting the scene contrast ratio and keeping the light level high . . ."

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Re: A chance to own a piece of pop television history...

Post by Bernie »

And yet the BBC was able to keep some of them working for 25 years, and when they finally went, everyone was sad to see them go.

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The last day is over.

Ah well, everything must pass.....

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Re: A chance to own a piece of pop television history...

Post by GarethR »

Bernie wrote:And yet the BBC was able to keep some of them working for 25 years
Which is insane for cameras that were outdated in 1970, two years after their introduction, but then the BBC had made such a massive investment in them (nobody else bought them apart from a handful of ITV companies) and had such a vast inventory of spares it was pretty much stuck with them long after the time they should have all been pensioned off.

That stock of spares was the reason why the Beeb was able to keep them running so long, of course. It's one thing to put a brand-new piece of equipment into service and then keep it going, it's something else to try and resurrect it after many years in storage, especially in the case of things like the 2001 that are full of less-than-top-grade components that unavoidably deteriorate over time.

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Re: A chance to own a piece of pop television history...

Post by ray lomas »

GarethR wrote:nobody else bought them apart from a handful of ITV companies
If you count ITN, then fifty per cent of ITV companies at the time bought them - although admittedly not always for every studio.

Granada, Yorkshire, HTV, ATV, Anglia, Thames, LWT and ITN all had them at some point or other, and I think a (very) small number were sold abroad, including the US.

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Re: A chance to own a piece of pop television history...

Post by GarethR »

ray lomas wrote: I think a (very) small number were sold abroad, including the US.
The usually-quoted number is a total of three sold to the USA.

It was really only the BBC's patronage that kept the 2001 alive (it's been described as "an old design kept going too long which set camera design in the UK back years"), and IIRC it had been phased out of ITV by the late 70s/early 80s. Even the BBC realised that it needed a replacement as early as the late 70s, which is what ultimately led to the development of the Link.

For various reasons, mostly linked to its outdated design, the 2001 wasn't a sales success and helped kill off EMI as a TV camera manufacturer. Marconi sold massively more of its contemporaneous Mark VIII - about 650 units worldwide, a number (and size of marketplace) EMI could only dream of. That's not to say that the 2001 wasn't liked by many people who used it, but it wasn't an objectively great camera either.

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Re: A chance to own a piece of pop television history...

Post by Bernie »

GarethR wrote:That's not to say that the 2001 wasn't liked by many people who used it, but it wasn't an objectively great camera either.
It sort of depends on where you're standing, and what the choice is. If you were standing behind the camera and you had the choice of Marconi MkVII or EMI 2001 there was no contest. I think BBC engineers generally thought the same - and certainly did when the choice was EMI or evil junky Link, as did we.

I don't know what else was available in the world around 1970, but none came our way.

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Re: A chance to own a piece of pop television history...

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Bernie wrote:I don't know what else was available in the world around 1970, but none came our way
The Marconi Mk VIII was available in 1970. It was the direct competitor to the 2001, and it massively outsold it, being used all over the world. The Mk VIII was an up-to-date design rather than something that really represented mid-60s technology, so with internal BBC politics not being a factor, it inevitably did much better outside the Corporation.

Interestingly, it appears that the Mk VIII was another long-lived camera, with some units remaining in service in Australia (at least) until the early 90s. Apparently it was generally better-built than the 2001, with higher-quality components, and ran cooler, all of which contribute to making it much easier to restore to full broadcast condition today.

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Re: A chance to own a piece of pop television history...

Post by Tim D »

Quality issues aside, the image of an EMI 2001 with the BBC tv Colour badge on the side is almost as iconic an image as Television Centre itself. Quite possibly more for TV anoraks than members of the general viewing public, but it's certainly an integral part of the imagery of those early days of colour television in the UK.

It was probably those weekly editions of Top of the Pops that exposed the camera to the public more than any other programme. And then there was Swap Shop, doing it's bit with those behind the scenes expeditions when Noel went walkabout. I remember asking the careers officer at school how I could become a television cameraman and he didn't have a clue. The next week I wanted to work in VT and then decided I wanted to work in television graphic design, which I studied. In the end I was torn between pursuing a career in television or radio and radio won. Thirty years on, I'm so glad I didn't take the advice of the careers officer who'd have had me digging holes for the council!

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Re: A chance to own a piece of pop television history...

Post by Bernie »

Tim D wrote: I remember asking the careers officer at school how I could become a television cameraman and he didn't have a clue.
I did the same thing, and mine didn't either. It didn't matter - I'd already got hold of...

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...and knew what I needed to do. One thing that wasn't needed was university, and I was the only person in my sixth form who didn't even get the paperwork. My headmaster was a bit sniffy about that, and rather dismissed me as a lost cause. Sadly he didn't live long enough to see my name on BBC1 every week for years.

...and, as you say - this is a tv icon whatever anyone says -

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Re: A chance to own a piece of pop television history...

Post by GarethR »

Nobody's saying it *isn't* a TV icon, are they? Just that its iconic status derives more from being seen on screen a lot than from actually being a well-designed piece of technology. If internal BBC politics had led to different buying decisions, you'd now be waxing lyrical about the Marconi Mk VIII instead.

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Re: A chance to own a piece of pop television history...

Post by Bernie »

GarethR wrote:Nobody's saying it *isn't* a TV icon, are they? Just that its iconic status derives more from being seen on screen a lot than from actually being a well-designed piece of technology. If internal BBC politics had led to different buying decisions, you'd now be waxing lyrical about the Marconi Mk VIII instead.
When the Marconi MkVIIs were taken out of TC6 and TC8 they weren't chucked away, they went to News and Pres. I too went to Pres, first as a cameraman then as a producer. In Pres B we did OGWT, where my personal camera highlight was Joe Cocker with Sue and Sunny and a band singing "I get by with a a little help from my friends". So - six musicians and three massive and very long cameras jammed into a tiny studio with us heaving the machines around trying to vary the shots.

No, I wouldn't be waxing lyrical.

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Re: A chance to own a piece of pop television history...

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Bernie wrote: No, I wouldn't be waxing lyrical
You're talking about the Mk VIIs though. How much experience do you have of the Mk VIII? If it had been that bad a camera, it wouldn't have been as successful. By the same token, if the 2001 had been better, it wouldn't have sold as badly and wouldn't have helped dig EMI's grave as a TV camera manufacturer.

The 2001 was a bit like the Triumph Stag, really. Lovely to look at, nice to drive, but under the bonnet, some woeful engineering choices that helped make it a sales disaster outside the UK. EMI did the equivalent of Triumph passing over the Buick-originated Rover V8 in favour of welding two Dolomite engines together.

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Re: A chance to own a piece of pop television history...

Post by Tim D »

GarethR wrote:Nobody's saying it *isn't* a TV icon, are they?
No, never thought they were, I was just stating a personal opinion about the iconic imagery of the era. I'm not disputing they were a nail of camera and had capacitors that leaked like a wet paper bag. It's like MGBs. Romantic an image of 1970s motoring as they might represent, a bloody nightmare to own one.

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Re: A chance to own a piece of pop television history...

Post by Clive »

GarethR wrote: The 2001 was a bit like the Triumph Stag, really. Lovely to look at, nice to drive, but under the bonnet, some woeful engineering choices that helped make it a sales disaster outside the UK.
Eh? Woeful engineering ? I think the reason that the 2001 was not picked up outside the UK was not due to "woeful engineering"... As others have said,it was reliable for the time, but other companies produced better in a short time after the BBC had nailed it's flag to the post of the EMI 2001. I don't think anyone bought an expensive TV camera because it was "Lovely to look at", but bought whatever was best at the time and the 2001 was quickly superseded as the technology on colour TV cameras proceeded.

The EMI2001 was in use for 20 years, has any other TV camera been in service for such a time ? The "disaster" as you put it was not about the technology.

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Re: A chance to own a piece of pop television history...

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Clive wrote: Eh? Woeful engineering ? I think the reason that the 2001 was not picked up outside the UK was not due to "woeful engineering"...
It represented mid-60s technology at a time when camera design had already moved on. It was out of date almost as soon as it was launched.
I don't think anyone bought an expensive TV camera because it was "Lovely to look at", but bought whatever was best at the time
Unfortunately, corporate purchasing isn't always predicated on what's best at the time. In fact, what's best often doesn't really enter into it as much as internal politics, personalities, egos and empires. If the BBC had really cared about what was best, it wouldn't have committed so heavily to the 2001.
The EMI2001 was in use for 20 years, has any other TV camera been in service for such a time ?
The 2001 was in use for 20 years at the BBC only, and and it was really showing its age long before it was finally pensioned off - wasn't it only budgetary reasons that meant that EastEnders started off using using it, even though the 2001 was poorly suited to modern drama production with lower light levels? The relatively few other broadcasters that bought it phased it out *much* sooner.

As far as longevity goes, as I mentioned earlier the Marconi Mk VIII was equally long-lived, arriving in 1970 and surviving in some Australian stations (at least) until the early 90s. I'm not familiar with American cameras, but it wouldn't surprise me if a similar thing happened with one particular model over there as well.

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Re: A chance to own a piece of pop television history...

Post by Bernie »

GarethR wrote:How much experience do you have of the Mk VIII?
At that time the engineers had a lock-up on the floor of Studio F at Lime Grove, and there was one there for some months. We asked if they were coming our way and were told that the engineers weren't happy with them. Apparently they had an auto line-up system - you pressed a button and the machine did the line-up. Except that it didn't - apparently it lined itself up wrong. Also, the way it did it was to have all the normal manual knobs on the CCU attached to wire-wound pots in the usual way, except that they were motorised. The engineers felt that was somewhat clunky, so they passed. Presumably they then put out a spec to replace the 2001s, and sadly along came the Link 110s - pretty rubbishy stuff, with soft noisy pictures and even softer noisy viewfinders. Would we have been better off with Mk8's? Quite possibly - who knows?

So the short answer is - none.

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Re: A chance to own a piece of pop television history...

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Bernie wrote: The engineers felt that was somewhat clunky, so they passed
It may be a tad naive to think that the decision was significantly influenced by what the engineers at the sharp end thought. The suggestion that there was an inherent anti-Marconi bias in the higher echelons of BBC engineering that was nothing to do with the technical quality of their products may well have foundation.
Would we have been better off with Mk8's? Quite possibly - who knows?
Given how successful the Mk VIII was worldwide, then yes, quite possibly.

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Re: A chance to own a piece of pop television history...

Post by Bernie »

GarethR wrote: The suggestion that there was an inherent anti-Marconi bias in the higher echelons of BBC engineering that was nothing to do with the technical quality of their products may well have foundation.
I've heard this before, but only here. Nothing of this drifted down to us at the time. Do you have a proper reference, or is it just forum hearsay?

At that time the BBC had been using Marconi gear for forty-odd years, and had bought at least four generations of their cameras - so is there an Asa Briggs or whatever reference somewhere?

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Re: A chance to own a piece of pop television history...

Post by GarethR »

Bernie wrote:[
I've heard this before, but only here. Nothing of this drifted down to us at the time. Do you have a proper reference, or is it just forum hearsay?
I've heard it from a few grizzled old engineers in different places at different times, so... who knows?

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Re: A chance to own a piece of pop television history...

Post by brigham »

GarethR wrote:Nobody's saying it *isn't* a TV icon, are they?

Yes. I am.

That picture is just 'a Colour TV camera'. Any picture of a generic colour TV camera would be just as 'iconic'.

Now, a picture of an Emitron camera, in the grounds of AP, with the tower in the background and D. Birkinshaw on duty...

And if that isn't enough to dispel any notion of an 'anti-Marconi bias', the BBC's all-time icon of Broadcasting, the Type A microphone, is also a Marconi product.

So, if anyone has a spare Emitron, complete with 'iron man', I have space in my living room.

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Re: A chance to own a piece of pop television history...

Post by Clive »

Yep, but reading the history and between the lines based on decisions made, by the late colour 60's, for some reason...Marconi were not in favour. I am not sure why. Even after the EMI2001 it is strange that the BBC decided to employ 'Link' to make their replacements rather than a more established and wildly known camera supplier. In the 70's with the union led 'buy British!' campaign perhaps the BBC felt forced to buy something British built rather than a better camera from overseas ?

It does seem a little odd that after a certain date that the BBC wanted nothing more to-do with Marconi and would prefer to use an industrial TV camera supplier to develop their new studio camera, rather than using an established UK manufacturer to design their next generation of camera's...

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Re: A chance to own a piece of pop television history...

Post by Bob Richardson »

The BBC is monolithic and I know from my experience in the Graphics department that a commitment to buy Quantel Paintbox or Aston 4 capgens was seen as a long term policy. Huge investment in spare parts and engineer training meant that decisions couldn't easily be reversed or changed. We were still using Aston 4 long after Ethos became available because there were so many at TV Centre and around the regions. This uniformity meant that I could be sent to Pebble Mill or Oxford Road to operate equipment I was familiar with in London, but changing the technology was a bit like trying to stop an oil tanker travelling at speed.

ITV stations could largely do their own thing, even if this sometimes resulted in costly mistakes, such as Granada's decision to buy the first grneration of Viz graphics systems. They has no staff operators and the freelance market in the north-west was almost non-existent for that piece of kit. It ended up being used as a very expensive PC.
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Re: A chance to own a piece of pop television history...

Post by GarethR »

brigham wrote: Now, a picture of an Emitron camera, in the grounds of AP, with the tower in the background and D. Birkinshaw on duty...

And if that isn't enough to dispel any notion of an 'anti-Marconi bias'
I'm not talking about the 1930s, I'm talking the late 60s and into the 70s. As Clive (and various grizzled engineering types) says, by that time Marconi seemed to be out of favour at the BBC for some reason. The success of their cameras on the global market would seem to scotch any idea that was some kind of deficiency with their technical quality, unless the BBC had vastly higher standards than any other broadcaster... and the development of the Link cameras would rather suggest that they didn't.

From what I've heard about this issue, it was down to people and personalities, not the products.

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